Top Skills for Customers Service Roles
We’ve all had our fair share of poor customer service experiences where we end up feeling even more frustrated about the service we received than the actual problem at hand. But the customer service interactions that are really stellar tend to stick out in our minds far more. When someone truly listens to you, understands what’s going on, and apologizes, you have the confidence your issue will be resolved. And if the service rep goes above and beyond, you’ll likely consider the problem a one-off and keep coming back to the brand.
Now, think about these situations on a large scale. For companies that speak to hundreds of thousands of customers a day, it matters that their customer service representatives create far more memorable, positive experiences than negative ones. Retaining and nurturing customers has a tremendous impact on an organization’s bottom line, so it’s important to know what to look for when hiring some of your most precious employees. Below, we’ll cover some of the best characteristics of customer service representatives, how to showcase these skills on a resume, and how these skills can help customer service reps grow in their professional careers.
What are some of the best qualities in a customer service representative?
The best customer service reps are able to manage high case volumes, listen closely to what customers are saying, and distance themselves enough from situations so they aren’t taking things personally, but still make customers feel heard. This efficiency and compartmentalization certainly isn’t easy and takes practice. Let’s take a deeper look at some traits that stand-out customer service reps have in common.
Patience – Upset customers aren’t the most pleasant people to talk to. Oftentimes they are rude, insulting, and even raise their voice. The best reps are able to keep cool under pressure and maintain their professionalism. They are patient when customers try to explain what’s happening and give them the space to be angry. The best reps know that customer rage typically doesn’t have to do with them, rather with the company or circumstances. With that in mind, patient reps can de-escalate heated situations and try to turn customers’ bad days into good ones.
Empathy – Excellent customer service reps are skilled at putting themselves in others’ shoes. Because they are in tune with customers’ emotions, they are good at picking up on emotional cues, even over the phone. Empathy is critical because customers want to feel like they are being understood. Remember that Maya Angelou quote? “People will never forget how you made them feel,” and that couldn’t be more applicable to customer service. By showing customers respect and gauging their satisfaction in real-time, reps can better tailor their service to customer needs.
Attentiveness – When you are talking, you hope someone is paying attention to you. That’s especially the case when you’re calling a customer service line. After all, the whole point of calling is for someone to listen to your conundrum and fix it. The best customer service representatives are extremely good listeners, making it easy to suss out the root cause of a problem. Customers can tell reps are listening carefully when they ask thoughtful questions and provide other clues that they are paying full attention (i.e. only typing when they are taking notes, answering questions in a timely manner, etc.).
Translating customer service skills to resumes and interviews
Let’s say you’re a customer service representative, and you know that recruiters are looking for empathetic, attentive, patient employees. How do you showcase those attributes on your resume? Although those terms seem somewhat nebulous, it’s easier than you think. Start by demonstrating how much workload you took on.
What was your average call volume? What was the nature of the calls? Were they escalations? Were you the first point of contact? Highlighting these details gives recruiters insight into how much interaction you’ve had with customers and the types of situations you’ve become accustomed to handling. You can even throw in some keywords to hammer home your attitude towards helping customers. Lastly, double (even triple) check your resume for spelling and grammar errors. Employers want to know that you’ll be representing their brand well and instilling trust in your customers.
In an interview, you should have examples ready of when you took a call from a disappointed customer, how you diffused the situation, and how you helped retain those customers. As you’re speaking to recruiters, stay engaged and show off your listening skills. Ask good questions and make comments that indicate your genuine interest in the role. Showing that you care about the interview is a good sign to recruiters that you’ll care about customers, too.
Growing in the customer service career
To be a successful customer service rep, you need to be organized enough to manage your workload, tolerant enough to deal with peeved customers, compassionate enough to acknowledge customers’ feelings, and experienced enough to provide intelligent answers to customer questions. And after several years of working in customer service, reps will serve as an example to their peers and move up in the ranks. At this point, they are often ready to take on an upper-level position, teaching newcomers the ropes. Finding representatives with patience, empathy, and attentiveness from the get-go can help you hold onto your most valuable clients and establish your company as one that truly cares about its customers.
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